While the New York Red Bulls sit 11 points above the Chicago Fire heading into Saturday’s match at Red Bull Arena, over time, the Chicago/New York MLS series has been one dominated by the Windy City club. The Fire have a 24-12-8 all-time advantage over the Red Bulls across all competitions dating back to 1998 and with their backs against the proverbial playoff wall, would like to add a 25th win Saturday night in Harrison.
Given that the teams have played 44 matches, there are bound to be some memorable moments both on and off the field. Here I countdown the Top 5…
#5 – Fire coaches Bob Bradley AND Juan Carlos Osorio depart Chicago to join the MetroStars/Red Bulls – 10/22/2002 & 12/3/2007
This is a combined moment of events that occurred roughly five years apart.
Bob Bradley, the only coach the Chicago Fire had ever known, had a desire to return to his home state of New Jersey following the 2002 season. With a year left on his contract, the man who led the club to its first three pieces of hardware was traded to the MetroStars in exchange for striker Rodrigo Faria and the team’s first round selection in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft, which ended up being Nate Jaqua.
Much more contentious was the departure of Fire head coach Juan Carlos Osorio to the Red Bulls at the end of 2007. It was all roses early on as the Colombian manager came in and helped rescue the Fire from missing out on the MLS Cup playoffs, leading the club to the Eastern Conference final where they eventually fell 1-0 to New England.
Shortly after the loss though, the Red Bulls contacted Osorio without permission from the Fire. Shortly after that, Osorio resigned his post in Chicago, with the Red Bull sending compensation to the Windy City in the form of two draft picks and an undisclosed amount of allocation money.
Who’d the Fire end up getting with the selections? Receiving New York’s first round draft pick in 2008, the Fire picked winger Patrick Nyarko seventh overall and used the third round selection they had in the 2011 SuperDraft to acquire former Red Bull keeper Jon Conway in a draft day trade with Toronto FC.
#4 – A Power Outage Can’t Stop a Fire Rout of Red Bull – 7/12/2011
Just 32 days ago the Fire welcomed the Red Bulls to Toyota Park for a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match on July 12. Chicago Fire U.S. Open Cup matches tend to always have an interesting story behind them and this one is no different.
Following heavy morning storms throughout Chicagoland the day before the game, the club found itself among 100,000+ area residents without power the day of the match. With no guarantees of power returning by the scheduled 7:30pm kickoff, the Fire Front Office decided to move the start time up to 5:00pm in order to ensure a full match plus extra time and penalty kicks were able to be played if necessary.
With Red Bull already bringing a weakened squad of only 14 players and with Mike Petke on the bench in place of club manager Hans Backe, the Fire didn’t let the power outage play a role as Dominic Oduro, Yamith Cuesta and a second half brace from substitute Orr Barouch led the Fire past Red Bull 4-0.
#3 – Chris Rolfe First Half Hat Trick sinks New York – 10/23/2008
Looking to secure home-playoff advantage, the Chicago Fire welcomed Red Bull to Toyota Park for the last match of the 2008 MLS regular season. What ensued in the first half was a Chris Rolfe spectacle as the veteran striker hit for a first half hat trick, tallying all three of his goals within 33 minutes of each other.
The first came as the Fire transitioned following a beautiful back heal in the team’s own half from Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Down the field, the Fire took the lead as Stephen King’s cross from the endline found the head of Chris Rolfe who beat New York keeper Danny Cepero in the 11th minute.
The second was perhaps the team’s goal of the year as high, bouncing ball found Rolfe at the top of the box. The striker chested the ball then rocketed a half volley towards the top left corner and past Cepero making things 2-1 in the 38th minute.
Six minutes later, the striker clinched his first career hat trick as a headed ball was settled by Blanco who slotted Rolfe through alone on goal. The fourth-year Fire striker made no mistake, finishing to the left of Cepero again and taking the Fire into the half 3-1.
The Fire eventually won the game with two more second half goals from Brian McBride (53rd minute) and Daniel Woolard (75th minute) with the hat trick hero assisting on the final goal.
Watch the highlights here.
#2 – Grand Opening of Toyota Park sees Armas and Thiago push Fire past New York – 6/25/2006
After playing a “safety game” in front of a limited audience to test out the ins and outs of the club’s new home, Toyota Park held its Grand Opening match on June 25, 2006 in front of a sellout crowd of 20,133.
The Fire faithful saw attacking soccer from the start as Nate Jaqua was thwarted twice before Chris Armas broke through in the 12th minute. The Fire captain put a searching through ball in the box which was stopped by a Red Bull defender, but following up, Armas sent a hopeful poke towards Tony Meola who got a hand to the ball but watched it slowly trickle over the goal line giving the Fire a 1-0 advantage.
Charged by the crowd, the Fire had a number of opportunities through the first half but didn’t find the second goal until the 68th minute. Brazilian Thiago stepped up to a loose ball at the top of the 18, cut to the middle and fired a low drive past a sprawling Meola, giving the Fire a 2-0 lead and all they would need to win in front of a sellout crowd.
Watch the highlights here.
#1 – Fire defeat MetroStars 1-0 at Giants Stadium to raise the U.S. Open Cup for the third time – 10/15/2003
After putting in a strong bid to host the 2003 U.S. Open Cup final, the U.S. Soccer Federation awarded the hosting rights of the match to the MetroStars and Giants Stadium, forcing the team to go on the road for the first time in a U.S. Open Cup final.
Facing their old manager Bob Bradley in a tournament he’d won twice in Chicago, the Fire used a 68th minute goal from striker Damani Ralph to lift the club’s third Open Cup in six years.
Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.